Amy Roberts: It’s about time
When someone says, “I’m a local,” it can mean any number of things. Some are recent COVID refugees yet consider themselves an established resident. Others reminisce about the days of one stop light and still refer to the No Name as The Alamo. Then there are those who were conceived in a gondola and born in the back of a VW bus, thanks to their hippie-minded parents who moved here “just for a winter” in the sixties and never left. Still yet, there is a small handful of locals who mined for silver in our hills, long before people skied down them.
Similar to the stripes sewn into the cuff of a pilot’s blazer indicating rank, Park City locals used to earn their own unique level of status with each winter spent in here. Rank was measured by the number of season passes collected on a lanyard, the amount of duct tape used to patch together a favorite pair of ski pants, how many dogs one adopted from Furburbia, or the total sum of ACL repair scars on your knees — they were all acceptable forms of proof you were a true local. But somewhere along the way, we lost our way, and those figurative stripes were replaced with dollar signs. Now, you don’t have to earn your local status, you just have to earn enough money to claim it.
For most of us, this is no longer the town we moved to, and I hear more and more locals — the kind with scarred knees and the bones of at least three long-deceased rescue dogs buried in the backyard — asking each other, “Where’s the next best place?”
No one seems to know. As crowded and affluent and frankly unrecognizable as Park City has become, it still checks a lot of boxes — immediate access to year-round recreation and nature, within an hour’s drive to a major city with an international airport, and it’s not in the Midwest. That’s always a big plus. If there were another place with similar mountains and climate and amenities and fewer people, we’d likely be seeing a lot of for sale signs up around town.
So here we are, with many locals feeling disillusioned and perhaps a little stuck and trying to figure out how to bring back some of the magic that brought us here in the first place. Maybe instead of magic, we need a little mischief.
What if instead of avoiding highways 224 and 248 between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., we all decided to take a joyride and kill a few hours driving three miles to nowhere. I know it sounds ludicrous but hear me out. Another thousand cars on the road at peak times during peak season would surely be enough to make a few thousand people decide they’ve had enough. There has to be a breaking point, a moment when people collectively say, “This isn’t worth it. We’re not vacationing (or living) in Park City anymore. It takes too long to get anywhere.”
Money clearly isn’t the problem. No matter how much prices rise and service declines, we can’t seem to weed people out financially. They still come. And they bring friends. I never knew so many people had so much disposable income. But time, well, that’s even more valuable than cash. You can never earn more time, and no matter how disposable one’s income is, no one brags they have time to waste. So maybe our way out of this overcrowded feeling is to further overcrowd the roads.
We can take turns (though obviously we can’t make a left turn). Every so often, someone can honk and raise their fist to the sky in anger, just to make the whole thing a little more unpleasant. Sure, it’ll be a sacrifice at first, but maybe, just maybe, a four-hour drive from Deer Valley to Kimball Junction will deter future visits from the impatient who aren’t local enough to be in on the ruse.
It’ll take some planning and coordination, but then again, so does packing and hiring a moving company.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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